Revisiting the Phantom Tollbooth

phantom tollboothWhat a wonderfully eccentric, mad little book. I really could leave this review there, couldn’t I? Because who needs an introduction to the sheer magic that is the Phantom Tollbooth. I can still recall the first time this book took me on its wild trip into the Lands Beyond and I’m sure many of you can too.

Well, recently, feeling rather nostalgic, I’ve been having a bit of a children’s books binge- so of course, being an absolute classic, I had to pick this up. And WOW. It’s even better than I remembered.

On one level, it is an adventure story, pure and simple. Yet it doesn’t take long to delve beneath the surface and see the play on words- both figuratively and literally (visually toying with them on the page)- and find that at its heart this book offers so much more than a regular children’s story.

Language in the world of the Phantom Tollbooth is more than just a tool: it is a window into the wacky absurdity of the universe. Folded up within the pages of the book, the weird and wonderful glory of the world is revealed. Through the eyes of one bored boy, the reader is led on a journey to enlightenment. Thus Phantom Tollbooth teaches us to value our own existence.

And that is where the true charm of the book lies. Here, we get to discover the marvels of reality, the beauty of simple things and the power of imagination. Here, we get to see the importance of learning itself and just how much the world has to offer.

To say so much in such a small space makes this one of the most powerful children’s books of all time. And that’s why every child needs a phantom tollbooth.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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Have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

44 thoughts on “Revisiting the Phantom Tollbooth

  1. Oh I loved this one as a kid. I remember they started reading it aloud at a library thing when I was about five but never finished it. I HAD to know what happened so I brought home a copy. It was fantastic, an instant favourite.

    A few decades later, when my son was little, I read it aloud to him. Like you, I really enjoyed revisiting it with the mind of an adult. I missed so much when I was little!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I loved this book so much. It was completely bonkers, but there was a kind of internal consistency throughout all of it, and I loved all the different characters- though the Humbug has a special place in my heart, what with “always managing to be first with the wrong answer.” This makes me want to revisit it for next year, even though my TBR pile is nuts.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a great book. I remember reading it as a kid and thinking it was one of the most unique things I’d ever read and if, at the time, I had really understood what “clever” meant, I would have called it that. I re-read it a few years ago with my daughter and it was so fun to watch her little face as she also fell in love with this book. Thanks for writing about this. Now I want to read it again! It’s been a few years.

    Liked by 1 person

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